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1.  Type 2 diabetes genetic association database manually curated for the study design and odds ratio 
Background
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions worldwide, and the incidence of life-threatening complications of diabetes through continued exposure of tissues to high glucose levels is increasing. Advances in genotyping technology have increased the scale and accuracy of the genotype data so that an association genetic study has expanded enormously. Consequently, it is difficult to search the published association data efficiently, and several databases on the association results have been constructed, but these databases have their limitations to researchers: some providing only genome-wide association data, some not focused on the association but more on the integrative data, and some are not user-friendly. In this study, a user-friend database of type 2 diabetes genetic association of manually curated information was constructed.
Description
The list of publications used in this study was collected from the HuGE Navigator, which is an online database of published genome epidemiology literature. Because type 2 diabetes genetic association database (T2DGADB) aims to provide specialized information on the genetic risk factors involved in the development of type 2 diabetes, 701 of the 1,771 publications in the type 2 Diabetes case-control study for the development of the disease were extracted.
Conclusions
In the database, the association results were grouped as either positive or negative. The gene and SNP names were replaced with gene symbols and rsSNP numbers, the association p-values were determined manually, and the results are displayed by graphs and tables. In addition, the study design in publications, such as the population type and size are described. This database can be used for research purposes, such as an association and functional study of type 2 diabetes related genes, and as a primary genetic resource to construct a diabetes risk test in the preparation of personalized medicine in the future.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-76
PMCID: PMC3022779  PMID: 21190593
2.  A theoretical decision model to help inform advance directive discussions for patients with COPD 
Background
Advance directives (AD) may promote preference-concordant care yet are absent in many patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). In order to begin to inform AD discussions between clinicians and COPD patients, we constructed a decision tree to estimate the impact of alternative AD decisions on both quality and quantity of life (quality adjusted life years, QALYs).
Methods
Two aspects of the AD were considered, Do Not Intubate (DNI; i.e., no invasive mechanical ventilation) and Full Code (i.e., may use invasive mechanical ventilation). Model parameters were based on published estimates. Our model follows hypothetical patients with COPD to evaluate the effect of underlying COPD severity and of hypothetical patient-specific preferences (about long-term institutionalization and complications from invasive mechanical ventilation) on the recommended AD.
Results
Our theoretical model recommends endorsing the Full Code advance directive for patients who do not have strong preferences against having a potential complication from intubation (ETT complications) or being discharged to a long-term ECF. However, our model recommends endorsing the DNI advance directive for patients who do have strong preferences against having potential complications of intubation and are were willing to tradeoff substantial amounts of time alive to avoid ETT complications or permanent institutionalization. Our theoretical model also recommends endorsing the DNI advance directive for patients who have a higher probability of having complications from invasive ventilation (ETT).
Conclusions
Our model suggests that AD decisions are sensitive to patient preferences about long-term institutionalization and potential complications of therapy, particularly in patients with severe COPD. Future work will elicit actual patient preferences about complications of invasive mechanical ventilation, and incorporate our model into a clinical decision support to be used for actual COPD patients facing AD decisions.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-75
PMCID: PMC3020153  PMID: 21172022
3.  Outbreak detection algorithms for seasonal disease data: a case study using ross river virus disease 
Background
Detection of outbreaks is an important part of disease surveillance. Although many algorithms have been designed for detecting outbreaks, few have been specifically assessed against diseases that have distinct seasonal incidence patterns, such as those caused by vector-borne pathogens.
Methods
We applied five previously reported outbreak detection algorithms to Ross River virus (RRV) disease data (1991-2007) for the four local government areas (LGAs) of Brisbane, Emerald, Redland and Townsville in Queensland, Australia. The methods used were the Early Aberration Reporting System (EARS) C1, C2 and C3 methods, negative binomial cusum (NBC), historical limits method (HLM), Poisson outbreak detection (POD) method and the purely temporal SaTScan analysis. Seasonally-adjusted variants of the NBC and SaTScan methods were developed. Some of the algorithms were applied using a range of parameter values, resulting in 17 variants of the five algorithms.
Results
The 9,188 RRV disease notifications that occurred in the four selected regions over the study period showed marked seasonality, which adversely affected the performance of some of the outbreak detection algorithms. Most of the methods examined were able to detect the same major events. The exception was the seasonally-adjusted NBC methods that detected an excess of short signals. The NBC, POD and temporal SaTScan algorithms were the only methods that consistently had high true positive rates and low false positive and false negative rates across the four study areas. The timeliness of outbreak signals generated by each method was also compared but there was no consistency across outbreaks and LGAs.
Conclusions
This study has highlighted several issues associated with applying outbreak detection algorithms to seasonal disease data. In lieu of a true gold standard, a quantitative comparison is difficult and caution should be taken when interpreting the true positives, false positives, sensitivity and specificity.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-74
PMCID: PMC3004813  PMID: 21106104
4.  Stages of use: consideration, initiation, utilization, and outcomes of an internet-mediated intervention 
Background
Attrition, or nonuse of the intervention, is a significant problem in e-health. However, the reasons for this phenomenon are poorly understood. Building on Eysenbach's "Law of Attrition", this study aimed to explore the usage behavior of users of e-health services. We used two theoretical models, Andersen's Behavioral Model of Health Service Utilization and Venkatesh's Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology, to explore the factors associated with uptake and use of an internet-mediated intervention for caregivers taking care of a family member with dementia.
Methods
A multiphase, longitudinal design was used to follow a convenience sample of 46 family caregivers who received an e-health intervention. Applying the two theories, usage behavior was conceptualized to form four stages: consideration, initiation, utilization (attrition or continuation), and outcome. The variables and measurement scales were selected based on these theories to measure the sociodemographic context, technology aptitudes, and clinical needs of the caregivers.
Results
In the Consideration Stage, caregivers who felt that the information communication technology (ICT)-mediated service was easy to use were more likely to consider participating in the study (p = 0.04). In the Initiation Stage, caregivers who showed greater technology acceptance were more likely to initiate service earlier (p = 0.02). In the Utilization Stage, the frequent users were those who had a more positive attitude toward technology (p = 0.04) and a lower perceived caregiver competence (p = 0.04) compared with nonusers. In the Outcome Stage, frequent users experienced a decline in perceived burden compared with an escalation of perceived burden by nonusers (p = 0.02).
Conclusions
We illustrate a methodological framework describing how to develop and expand a theory on attrition. The proposed framework highlighted the importance of conceptualizing e-health "use" and "adoption" as dynamic, continuous, longitudinal processes occurring in different stages, influenced by different factors to predict advancement to the next stage. Although usage behavior was influenced mainly by technological factors in the initial stages, both clinical and technological factors were equally important in the later stages. Frequency of use was associated with positive clinical outcomes. A plausible explanation was that intervention benefits motivated the caregivers to continue the service and regular use led to more positive clinical outcome.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-73
PMCID: PMC3000372  PMID: 21092275
5.  Prescriber and staff perceptions of an electronic prescribing system in primary care: a qualitative assessment 
Background
The United States (US) Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 has spurred adoption of electronic health records. The corresponding meaningful use criteria proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services mandates use of computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems. Yet, adoption in the US and other Western countries is low and descriptions of successful implementations are primarily from the inpatient setting; less frequently the ambulatory setting. We describe prescriber and staff perceptions of implementation of a CPOE system for medications (electronic- or e-prescribing system) in the ambulatory setting.
Methods
Using a cross-sectional study design, we conducted eight focus groups at three primary care sites in an independent medical group. Each site represented a unique stage of e-prescribing implementation - pre/transition/post. We used a theoretically based, semi-structured questionnaire to elicit physician (n = 17) and staff (n = 53) perceptions of implementation of the e-prescribing system. We conducted a thematic analysis of focus group discussions using formal qualitative analytic techniques (i.e. deductive framework and grounded theory). Two coders independently coded to theoretical saturation and resolved discrepancies through discussions.
Results
Ten themes emerged that describe perceptions of e-prescribing implementation: 1) improved availability of clinical information resulted in prescribing efficiencies and more coordinated care; 2) improved documentation resulted in safer care; 3) efficiencies were gained by using fewer paper charts; 4) organizational support facilitated adoption; 5) transition required time; resulted in workload shift to staff; 6) hardware configurations and network stability were important in facilitating workflow; 7) e-prescribing was time-neutral or time-saving; 8) changes in patient interactions enhanced patient care but required education; 9) pharmacy communications were enhanced but required education; 10) positive attitudes facilitated adoption.
Conclusions
Prescribers and staff worked through the transition to successfully adopt e-prescribing, and noted the benefits. Overall impressions were favorable. No one wished to return to paper-based prescribing.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-72
PMCID: PMC2996338  PMID: 21087524
6.  Clinical map document based on XML (cMDX): document architecture with mapping feature for reporting and analysing prostate cancer in radical prostatectomy specimens 
Background
The pathology report of radical prostatectomy specimens plays an important role in clinical decisions and the prognostic evaluation in Prostate Cancer (PCa). The anatomical schema is a helpful tool to document PCa extension for clinical and research purposes. To achieve electronic documentation and analysis, an appropriate documentation model for anatomical schemas is needed. For this purpose we developed cMDX.
Methods
The document architecture of cMDX was designed according to Open Packaging Conventions by separating the whole data into template data and patient data. Analogue custom XML elements were considered to harmonize the graphical representation (e.g. tumour extension) with the textual data (e.g. histological patterns). The graphical documentation was based on the four-layer visualization model that forms the interaction between different custom XML elements. Sensible personal data were encrypted with a 256-bit cryptographic algorithm to avoid misuse. In order to assess the clinical value, we retrospectively analysed the tumour extension in 255 patients after radical prostatectomy.
Results
The pathology report with cMDX can represent pathological findings of the prostate in schematic styles. Such reports can be integrated into the hospital information system. "cMDX" documents can be converted into different data formats like text, graphics and PDF. Supplementary tools like cMDX Editor and an analyser tool were implemented. The graphical analysis of 255 prostatectomy specimens showed that PCa were mostly localized in the peripheral zone (Mean: 73% ± 25). 54% of PCa showed a multifocal growth pattern.
Conclusions
cMDX can be used for routine histopathological reporting of radical prostatectomy specimens and provide data for scientific analysis.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-71
PMCID: PMC2995775  PMID: 21078179
7.  Making it possible to measure knowledge, experience and intuition in diagnosing lung injury severity: a fuzzy logic vision based on the Murray score 
Background
Murray score is the result of an equation that gives all its variables the same linear contribution and weight and makes use of consented cut-offs. Everyday physicians' vocabulary is full of terms (adjectives) like: little, small, low, high, etc. that they handle in an intuitive and not always linear way to make therapeutic decisions. The purpose of this paper is to develop a fuzzy logic (FL) vision of Murray's score variables to enable the measurement of physicians' knowledge, experience and intuition in diagnosing lung injury and test if they followed Murray's equation predictions.
Methods
For a prospective survey carried out among a team of professionals (aged 29 to 53) in a University Hospital Intensive Care Unit, twelve physicians filled in two questionnaires. In the first one they had to define the ranks which should be categorized as normal, moderate and severe for three of four Murray variables. In another questionnaire, which represented all probable combinations of those categories, they had to tick the pulmonary condition as: no injury, mild, moderate, and ARDS. This procedure gave rise to a Fuzzy Inference System designed to provide the degree of severity as sensed by the group.
Results
The survey showed fuzzy frontiers for the categories and fuzzy diagnosis. In all, 45% of the hypothetical patients (n 18,013) were equally diagnosed by the survey and Murray's equation, whereas another 51% was overestimated in one level by the survey. Physicians agreed with 96.5% of ARDS cases according to Murray's test but only 11.6% of its mild cases were equally diagnosed by the survey. Nonlinearity of the survey reasoning (high relevance to gas exchange and chest film) was apparent.
Conclusions
The contiguous categories of the variables confirm the existence of fuzzy frontiers. An overestimation was found in the surveyed group's interpretation of severity. This overestimation was mainly due to the different weight assigned to PO2/FiO2 and chest film variables. The FL approach made it possible to measure knowledge, experience and intuition as they appear in physicians' thinking. FL methodology could overcome a series of restrictions that current tests have due to cut-offs
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-70
PMCID: PMC2991274  PMID: 21050478
8.  Application of smart phone in "Better Border Healthcare Program": A module for mother and child care 
Background
To assess the application of cell phone integrating into the healthcare system to improve antenatal care (ANC) and expanded programme on immunization (EPI) services for the under-served population in border area.
Methods
A module combining web-based and mobile technology was developed to generate ANC/EPI visit schedule dates in which the healthcare personnel can cross-check, identify and update the mother's ANC and child's EPI status at the healthcare facility or at the household location when performing home visit; with additional feature of sending appointment reminder directly to the scheduled mother in the community.
Results
The module improved ANC/EPI coverage in the study area along the country border including for both Thai and non-Thai mothers and children who were either permanent resident or migrants; numbers of ANC and EPI visit on-time as per schedule significantly increased; there was less delay of antenatal visits and immunizations.
Conclusions
The module integrated and functioned successfully as part of the healthcare system; it is proved for its feasibility and the extent to which community healthcare personnel in the low resource setting could efficiently utilize it to perform their duties.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-69
PMCID: PMC2989931  PMID: 21047412
9.  Predicting the start week of respiratory syncytial virus outbreaks using real time weather variables 
Background
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), a major cause of bronchiolitis, has a large impact on the census of pediatric hospitals during outbreak seasons. Reliable prediction of the week these outbreaks will start, based on readily available data, could help pediatric hospitals better prepare for large outbreaks.
Methods
Naïve Bayes (NB) classifier models were constructed using weather data from 1985-2008 considering only variables that are available in real time and that could be used to forecast the week in which an RSV outbreak will occur in Salt Lake County, Utah. Outbreak start dates were determined by a panel of experts using 32,509 records with ICD-9 coded RSV and bronchiolitis diagnoses from Intermountain Healthcare hospitals and clinics for the RSV seasons from 1985 to 2008.
Results
NB models predicted RSV outbreaks up to 3 weeks in advance with an estimated sensitivity of up to 67% and estimated specificities as high as 94% to 100%. Temperature and wind speed were the best overall predictors, but other weather variables also showed relevance depending on how far in advance the predictions were made. The weather conditions predictive of an RSV outbreak in our study were similar to those that lead to temperature inversions in the Salt Lake Valley.
Conclusions
We demonstrate that Naïve Bayes (NB) classifier models based on weather data available in real time have the potential to be used as effective predictive models. These models may be able to predict the week that an RSV outbreak will occur with clinical relevance. Their clinical usefulness will be field tested during the next five years.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-68
PMCID: PMC2987968  PMID: 21044325
10.  Actor-Network Theory and its role in understanding the implementation of information technology developments in healthcare 
Background
Actor-Network Theory (ANT) is an increasingly influential, but still deeply contested, approach to understand humans and their interactions with inanimate objects. We argue that health services research, and in particular evaluations of complex IT systems in health service organisations, may benefit from being informed by Actor-Network Theory perspectives.
Discussion
Despite some limitations, an Actor-Network Theory-based approach is conceptually useful in helping to appreciate the complexity of reality (including the complexity of organisations) and the active role of technology in this context. This can prove helpful in understanding how social effects are generated as a result of associations between different actors in a network. Of central importance in this respect is that Actor-Network Theory provides a lens through which to view the role of technology in shaping social processes. Attention to this shaping role can contribute to a more holistic appreciation of the complexity of technology introduction in healthcare settings. It can also prove practically useful in providing a theoretically informed approach to sampling (by drawing on informants that are related to the technology in question) and analysis (by providing a conceptual tool and vocabulary that can form the basis for interpretations). We draw on existing empirical work in this area and our ongoing work investigating the integration of electronic health record systems introduced as part of England's National Programme for Information Technology to illustrate salient points.
Summary
Actor-Network Theory needs to be used pragmatically with an appreciation of its shortcomings. Our experiences suggest it can be helpful in investigating technology implementations in healthcare settings.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-67
PMCID: PMC2988706  PMID: 21040575
11.  Determining correspondences between high-frequency MedDRA concepts and SNOMED: a case study 
Background
The Systematic Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) is being advocated as the foundation for encoding clinical documentation. While the electronic medical record is likely to play a critical role in pharmacovigilance - the detection of adverse events due to medications - classification and reporting of Adverse Events is currently based on the Medical Dictionary of Regulatory Activities (MedDRA). Complete and high-quality MedDRA-to-SNOMED CT mappings can therefore facilitate pharmacovigilance.
The existing mappings, as determined through the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS), are partial, and record only one-to-one correspondences even though SNOMED CT can be used compositionally. Efforts to map previously unmapped MedDRA concepts would be most productive if focused on concepts that occur frequently in actual adverse event data.
We aimed to identify aspects of MedDRA that complicate mapping to SNOMED CT, determine pattern in unmapped high-frequency MedDRA concepts, and to identify types of integration errors in the mapping of MedDRA to UMLS.
Methods
Using one years' data from the US Federal Drug Administrations Adverse Event Reporting System, we identified MedDRA preferred terms that collectively accounted for 95% of both Adverse Events and Therapeutic Indications records. After eliminating those already mapping to SNOMED CT, we attempted to map the remaining 645 Adverse-Event and 141 Therapeutic-Indications preferred terms with software assistance.
Results
All but 46 Adverse-Event and 7 Therapeutic-Indications preferred terms could be composed using SNOMED CT concepts: none of these required more than 3 SNOMED CT concepts to compose. We describe the common composition patterns in the paper. About 30% of both Adverse-Event and Therapeutic-Indications Preferred Terms corresponded to single SNOMED CT concepts: the correspondence was detectable by human inspection but had been missed during the integration process, which had created duplicated concepts in UMLS.
Conclusions
Identification of composite mapping patterns, and the types of errors that occur in the MedDRA content within UMLS, can focus larger-scale efforts on improving the quality of such mappings, which may assist in the creation of an adverse-events ontology.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-66
PMCID: PMC2988705  PMID: 21029418
12.  AGUIA: autonomous graphical user interface assembly for clinical trials semantic data services 
Background
AGUIA is a front-end web application originally developed to manage clinical, demographic and biomolecular patient data collected during clinical trials at MD Anderson Cancer Center. The diversity of methods involved in patient screening and sample processing generates a variety of data types that require a resource-oriented architecture to capture the associations between the heterogeneous data elements. AGUIA uses a semantic web formalism, resource description framework (RDF), and a bottom-up design of knowledge bases that employ the S3DB tool as the starting point for the client's interface assembly.
Methods
The data web service, S3DB, meets the necessary requirements of generating the RDF and of explicitly distinguishing the description of the domain from its instantiation, while allowing for continuous editing of both. Furthermore, it uses an HTTP-REST protocol, has a SPARQL endpoint, and has open source availability in the public domain, which facilitates the development and dissemination of this application. However, S3DB alone does not address the issue of representing content in a form that makes sense for domain experts.
Results
We identified an autonomous set of descriptors, the GBox, that provides user and domain specifications for the graphical user interface. This was achieved by identifying a formalism that makes use of an RDF schema to enable the automatic assembly of graphical user interfaces in a meaningful manner while using only resources native to the client web browser (JavaScript interpreter, document object model). We defined a generalized RDF model such that changes in the graphic descriptors are automatically and immediately (locally) reflected into the configuration of the client's interface application.
Conclusions
The design patterns identified for the GBox benefit from and reflect the specific requirements of interacting with data generated by clinical trials, and they contain clues for a general purpose solution to the challenge of having interfaces automatically assembled for multiple and volatile views of a domain. By coding AGUIA in JavaScript, for which all browsers include a native interpreter, a solution was found that assembles interfaces that are meaningful to the particular user, and which are also ubiquitous and lightweight, allowing the computational load to be carried by the client's machine.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-65
PMCID: PMC2987967  PMID: 20977768
13.  An online network tool for quality information to answer questions about occupational safety and health: usability and applicability 
Background
Common information facilities do not always provide the quality information needed to answer questions on health or health-related issues, such as Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) matters. Barriers may be the accessibility, quantity and readability of information. Online Question & Answer (Q&A) network tools, which link questioners directly to experts can overcome some of these barriers. When designing and testing online tools, assessing the usability and applicability is essential. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to assess the usability and applicability of a new online Q&A network tool for answers on OSH questions.
Methods
We applied a cross-sectional usability test design. Eight occupational health experts and twelve potential questioners from the working population (workers) were purposively selected to include a variety of computer- and internet-experiences. During the test, participants were first observed while executing eight tasks that entailed important features of the tool. In addition, they were interviewed. Through task observations and interviews we assessed applicability, usability (effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction) and facilitators and barriers in use.
Results
Most features were usable, though several could be improved. Most tasks were executed effectively. Some tasks, for example searching stored questions in categories, were not executed efficiently and participants were less satisfied with the corresponding features. Participants' recommendations led to improvements. The tool was found mostly applicable for additional information, to observe new OSH trends and to improve contact between OSH experts and workers. Hosting and support by a trustworthy professional organization, effective implementation campaigns, timely answering and anonymity were seen as important use requirements.
Conclusions
This network tool is a promising new strategy for offering company workers high quality information to answer OSH questions. Q&A network tools can be an addition to existing information facilities in the field of OSH, but also to other healthcare fields struggling with how to answer questions from people in practice with high quality information. In the near future, we will focus on the use of the tool and its effects on information and knowledge dissemination.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-63
PMCID: PMC2987966  PMID: 20969777
14.  Information Discovery on Electronic Health Records Using Authority Flow Techniques 
Background
As the use of electronic health records (EHRs) becomes more widespread, so does the need to search and provide effective information discovery within them. Querying by keyword has emerged as one of the most effective paradigms for searching. Most work in this area is based on traditional Information Retrieval (IR) techniques, where each document is compared individually against the query. We compare the effectiveness of two fundamentally different techniques for keyword search of EHRs.
Methods
We built two ranking systems. The traditional BM25 system exploits the EHRs' content without regard to association among entities within. The Clinical ObjectRank (CO) system exploits the entities' associations in EHRs using an authority-flow algorithm to discover the most relevant entities. BM25 and CO were deployed on an EHR dataset of the cardiovascular division of Miami Children's Hospital. Using sequences of keywords as queries, sensitivity and specificity were measured by two physicians for a set of 11 queries related to congenital cardiac disease.
Results
Our pilot evaluation showed that CO outperforms BM25 in terms of sensitivity (65% vs. 38%) by 71% on average, while maintaining the specificity (64% vs. 61%). The evaluation was done by two physicians.
Conclusions
Authority-flow techniques can greatly improve the detection of relevant information in EHRs and hence deserve further study.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-64
PMCID: PMC2984470  PMID: 20969780
15.  Has information technology finally been adopted in Flemish intensive care units? 
Background
Information technology (IT) may improve the quality, safety and efficiency of medicine, and is especially useful in intensive Care Units (ICUs) as these are extremely data-rich environments with round-the-clock changing parameters. However, data regarding the implementation rates of IT in ICUs are scarce, and restricted to non-European countries. The current paper aims to provide relevant information regarding implementation of IT in Flemish ICU's (Flanders, Belgium).
Methods
The current study is based on two separate but complementary surveys conducted in the region of Flanders (Belgium): a written questionnaire in 2005 followed by a telephone survey in October 2008. We have evaluated the actual health IT adoption rate, as well as its evolution over a 3-year time frame. In addition, we documented the main benefits and obstacles for taking the decision to implement an Intensive Care Information System (ICIS).
Results
Currently, the computerized display of laboratory and radiology results is almost omnipresent in Flemish ICUs, (100% and 93.5%, respectively), but the computerized physician order entry (CPOE) of these examinations is rarely used. Sixty-five % of Flemish ICUs use an electronic patient record, 41.3% use CPOE for medication prescriptions, and 27% use computerized medication administration recording. The implementation rate of a dedicated ICIS has doubled over the last 3 years from 9.3% to 19%, and another 31.7% have plans to implement an ICIS within the next 3 years. Half of the tertiary non-academic hospitals and all university hospitals have implemented an ICIS, general hospitals are lagging behind with 8% implementation, however. The main reasons for postponing ICIS implementation are: (i) the substantial initial investment costs, (ii) integration problems with the hospital information system, (iii) concerns about user-friendly interfaces, (iv) the need for dedicated personnel and (v) the questionable cost-benefit ratio.
Conclusions
Most ICUs in Flanders use hospital IT systems such as computerized laboratory and radiology displays. The adoption rate of ICISs has doubled over the last 3 years but is still surprisingly low, especially in general hospitals. The major reason for not implementing an ICIS is the substantial financial cost, together with the lack of arguments to ensure the cost/benefit.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-62
PMCID: PMC2967500  PMID: 20958955
16.  Development and formative evaluation of the e-Health Implementation Toolkit (e-HIT) 
Background
The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) or e-Health is seen as essential for a modern, cost-effective health service. However, there are well documented problems with implementation of e-Health initiatives, despite the existence of a great deal of research into how best to implement e-Health (an example of the gap between research and practice). This paper reports on the development and formative evaluation of an e-Health Implementation Toolkit (e-HIT) which aims to summarise and synthesise new and existing research on implementation of e-Health initiatives, and present it to senior managers in a user-friendly format.
Results
The content of the e-HIT was derived by combining data from a systematic review of reviews of barriers and facilitators to implementation of e-Health initiatives with qualitative data derived from interviews of "implementers", that is people who had been charged with implementing an e-Health initiative. These data were summarised, synthesised and combined with the constructs from the Normalisation Process Model. The software for the toolkit was developed by a commercial company (RocketScience). Formative evaluation was undertaken by obtaining user feedback.
There are three components to the toolkit - a section on background and instructions for use aimed at novice users; the toolkit itself; and the report generated by completing the toolkit. It is available to download from http://www.ucl.ac.uk/pcph/research/ehealth/documents/e-HIT.xls
Conclusions
The e-HIT shows potential as a tool for enhancing future e-Health implementations. Further work is needed to make it fully web-enabled, and to determine its predictive potential for future implementations.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-61
PMCID: PMC2967499  PMID: 20955594
17.  A knowledge-based taxonomy of critical factors for adopting electronic health record systems by physicians: a systematic literature review 
Background
The health care sector is an area of social and economic interest in several countries; therefore, there have been lots of efforts in the use of electronic health records. Nevertheless, there is evidence suggesting that these systems have not been adopted as it was expected, and although there are some proposals to support their adoption, the proposed support is not by means of information and communication technology which can provide automatic tools of support. The aim of this study is to identify the critical adoption factors for electronic health records by physicians and to use them as a guide to support their adoption process automatically.
Methods
This paper presents, based on the PRISMA statement, a systematic literature review in electronic databases with adoption studies of electronic health records published in English. Software applications that manage and process the data in the electronic health record have been considered, i.e.: computerized physician prescription, electronic medical records, and electronic capture of clinical data. Our review was conducted with the purpose of obtaining a taxonomy of the physicians main barriers for adopting electronic health records, that can be addressed by means of information and communication technology; in particular with the information technology roles of the knowledge management processes. Which take us to the question that we want to address in this work: "What are the critical adoption factors of electronic health records that can be supported by information and communication technology?". Reports from eight databases covering electronic health records adoption studies in the medical domain, in particular those focused on physicians, were analyzed.
Results
The review identifies two main issues: 1) a knowledge-based classification of critical factors for adopting electronic health records by physicians; and 2) the definition of a base for the design of a conceptual framework for supporting the design of knowledge-based systems, to assist the adoption process of electronic health records in an automatic fashion. From our review, six critical adoption factors have been identified: user attitude towards information systems, workflow impact, interoperability, technical support, communication among users, and expert support. The main limitation of the taxonomy is the different impact of the adoption factors of electronic health records reported by some studies depending on the type of practice, setting, or attention level; however, these features are a determinant aspect with regard to the adoption rate for the latter rather than the presence of a specific critical adoption factor.
Conclusions
The critical adoption factors established here provide a sound theoretical basis for research to understand, support, and facilitate the adoption of electronic health records to physicians in benefit of patients.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-60
PMCID: PMC2970582  PMID: 20950458
18.  Data-driven approach for creating synthetic electronic medical records 
Background
New algorithms for disease outbreak detection are being developed to take advantage of full electronic medical records (EMRs) that contain a wealth of patient information. However, due to privacy concerns, even anonymized EMRs cannot be shared among researchers, resulting in great difficulty in comparing the effectiveness of these algorithms. To bridge the gap between novel bio-surveillance algorithms operating on full EMRs and the lack of non-identifiable EMR data, a method for generating complete and synthetic EMRs was developed.
Methods
This paper describes a novel methodology for generating complete synthetic EMRs both for an outbreak illness of interest (tularemia) and for background records. The method developed has three major steps: 1) synthetic patient identity and basic information generation; 2) identification of care patterns that the synthetic patients would receive based on the information present in real EMR data for similar health problems; 3) adaptation of these care patterns to the synthetic patient population.
Results
We generated EMRs, including visit records, clinical activity, laboratory orders/results and radiology orders/results for 203 synthetic tularemia outbreak patients. Validation of the records by a medical expert revealed problems in 19% of the records; these were subsequently corrected. We also generated background EMRs for over 3000 patients in the 4-11 yr age group. Validation of those records by a medical expert revealed problems in fewer than 3% of these background patient EMRs and the errors were subsequently rectified.
Conclusions
A data-driven method was developed for generating fully synthetic EMRs. The method is general and can be applied to any data set that has similar data elements (such as laboratory and radiology orders and results, clinical activity, prescription orders). The pilot synthetic outbreak records were for tularemia but our approach may be adapted to other infectious diseases. The pilot synthetic background records were in the 4-11 year old age group. The adaptations that must be made to the algorithms to produce synthetic background EMRs for other age groups are indicated.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-59
PMCID: PMC2972239  PMID: 20946670
19.  Boolean versus ranked querying for biomedical systematic reviews 
Background
The process of constructing a systematic review, a document that compiles the published evidence pertaining to a specified medical topic, is intensely time-consuming, often taking a team of researchers over a year, with the identification of relevant published research comprising a substantial portion of the effort. The standard paradigm for this information-seeking task is to use Boolean search; however, this leaves the user(s) the requirement of examining every returned result. Further, our experience is that effective Boolean queries for this specific task are extremely difficult to formulate and typically require multiple iterations of refinement before being finalized.
Methods
We explore the effectiveness of using ranked retrieval as compared to Boolean querying for the purpose of constructing a systematic review. We conduct a series of experiments involving ranked retrieval, using queries defined methodologically, in an effort to understand the practicalities of incorporating ranked retrieval into the systematic search task.
Results
Our results show that ranked retrieval by itself is not viable for this search task requiring high recall. However, we describe a refinement of the standard Boolean search process and show that ranking within a Boolean result set can improve the overall search performance by providing early indication of the quality of the results, thereby speeding up the iterative query-refinement process.
Conclusions
Outcomes of experiments suggest that an interactive query-development process using a hybrid ranked and Boolean retrieval system has the potential for significant time-savings over the current search process in the systematic reviewing.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-58
PMCID: PMC2966450  PMID: 20937152
20.  Web 2.0 and Internet Social Networking: A New tool for Disaster Management? - Lessons from Taiwan 
Background
Internet social networking tools and the emerging web 2.0 technologies are providing a new way for web users and health workers in information sharing and knowledge dissemination. Based on the characters of immediate, two-way and large scale of impact, the internet social networking tools have been utilized as a solution in emergency response during disasters. This paper highlights the use of internet social networking in disaster emergency response and public health management of disasters by focusing on a case study of the typhoon Morakot disaster in Taiwan.
Discussion
In the case of typhoon disaster in Taiwan, internet social networking and mobile technology were found to be helpful for community residents, professional emergency rescuers, and government agencies in gathering and disseminating real-time information, regarding volunteer recruitment and relief supplies allocation. We noted that if internet tools are to be integrated in the development of emergency response system, the accessibility, accuracy, validity, feasibility, privacy and the scalability of itself should be carefully considered especially in the effort of applying it in resource poor settings.
Summary
This paper seeks to promote an internet-based emergency response system by integrating internet social networking and information communication technology into central government disaster management system. Web-based networking provides two-way communication which establishes a reliable and accessible tunnel for proximal and distal users in disaster preparedness and management.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-57
PMCID: PMC2958996  PMID: 20925944
21.  ExaCT: automatic extraction of clinical trial characteristics from journal publications 
Background
Clinical trials are one of the most important sources of evidence for guiding evidence-based practice and the design of new trials. However, most of this information is available only in free text - e.g., in journal publications - which is labour intensive to process for systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and other evidence synthesis studies. This paper presents an automatic information extraction system, called ExaCT, that assists users with locating and extracting key trial characteristics (e.g., eligibility criteria, sample size, drug dosage, primary outcomes) from full-text journal articles reporting on randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
Methods
ExaCT consists of two parts: an information extraction (IE) engine that searches the article for text fragments that best describe the trial characteristics, and a web browser-based user interface that allows human reviewers to assess and modify the suggested selections. The IE engine uses a statistical text classifier to locate those sentences that have the highest probability of describing a trial characteristic. Then, the IE engine's second stage applies simple rules to these sentences to extract text fragments containing the target answer. The same approach is used for all 21 trial characteristics selected for this study.
Results
We evaluated ExaCT using 50 previously unseen articles describing RCTs. The text classifier (first stage) was able to recover 88% of relevant sentences among its top five candidates (top5 recall) with the topmost candidate being relevant in 80% of cases (top1 precision). Precision and recall of the extraction rules (second stage) were 93% and 91%, respectively. Together, the two stages of the extraction engine were able to provide (partially) correct solutions in 992 out of 1050 test tasks (94%), with a majority of these (696) representing fully correct and complete answers.
Conclusions
Our experiments confirmed the applicability and efficacy of ExaCT. Furthermore, they demonstrated that combining a statistical method with 'weak' extraction rules can identify a variety of study characteristics. The system is flexible and can be extended to handle other characteristics and document types (e.g., study protocols).
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-56
PMCID: PMC2954855  PMID: 20920176
22.  Risk communication in clinical trials: A cognitive experiment and a survey 
Background
A Royal Statistical Society Working Party recently recommended that "Greater use should be made of numerical, as opposed to verbal, descriptions of risk" in first-in-man clinical trials. This echoed the view of many clinicians and psychologists about risk communication. As the clinical trial industry expands rapidly across the globe, it is important to understand risk communication in Asian countries.
Methods
We conducted a cognitive experiment about participation in a hypothetical clinical trial of a pain relief medication and a survey in cancer and arthritis patients in Singapore. In part 1 of the experiment, the patients received information about the risk of side effects in one of three formats (frequency, percentage and verbal descriptor) and in one of two sequences (from least to most severe and from most to least severe), and were asked about their willingness to participate. In part 2, the patients received information about the risk in all three formats, in the same sequence, and were again asked about their willingness to participate. A survey of preference for risk presentation methods and usage of verbal descriptors immediately followed.
Results
Willingness to participate and the likelihood of changing one's decision were not affected by the risk presentation methods. Most patients indicated a preference for the frequency format, but patients with primary school or no formal education were indifferent. While the patients used the verbal descriptors "very common", "common" and "very rare" in ways similar to the European Commission's Guidelines, their usage of the descriptors "uncommon" and "rare" was substantially different from the EU's.
Conclusion
In this sample of Asian cancer and arthritis patients, risk presentation format had no impact on willingness to participate in a clinical trial. However, there is a clear preference for the frequency format. The lay use of verbal descriptors was substantially different from the EU's.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-55
PMCID: PMC2949696  PMID: 20868525
23.  Understanding reactions to an internet-delivered health-care intervention: accommodating user preferences for information provision 
Background
It is recognised as good practice to use qualitative methods to elicit users' views of internet-delivered health-care interventions during their development. This paper seeks to illustrate the advantages of combining usability testing with 'theoretical modelling', i.e. analyses that relate the findings of qualitative studies during intervention development to social science theory, in order to gain deeper insights into the reasons and context for how people respond to the intervention. This paper illustrates how usability testing may be enriched by theoretical modelling by means of two qualitative studies of users' views of the delivery of information in an internet-delivered intervention to help users decide whether they needed to seek medical care for their cold or flu symptoms.
Methods
In Study 1, 21 participants recruited from a city in southern England were asked to 'think aloud' while viewing draft web-pages presented in paper format. In Study 2, views of our prototype website were elicited, again using think aloud methods, in a sample of 26 participants purposively sampled for diversity in education levels. Both data-sets were analysed by thematic analysis.
Results
Study 1 revealed that although the information provided by the draft web-pages had many of the intended empowering benefits, users often felt overwhelmed by the quantity of information. Relating these findings to theory and research on factors influencing preferences for information-seeking we hypothesised that to meet the needs of different users (especially those with lower literacy levels) our website should be designed to provide only essential personalised advice, but with options to access further information. Study 2 showed that our website design did prove accessible to users with different literacy levels. However, some users seemed to want still greater control over how information was accessed.
Conclusions
Educational level need not be an insuperable barrier to appreciating web-based access to detailed health-related information, provided that users feel they can quickly gain access to the specific information they seek.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-52
PMCID: PMC2946266  PMID: 20849599
24.  A method for encoding clinical datasets with SNOMED CT 
Background
Over the past decade there has been a growing body of literature on how the Systematised Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) can be implemented and used in different clinical settings. Yet, for those charged with incorporating SNOMED CT into their organisation's clinical applications and vocabulary systems, there are few detailed encoding instructions and examples available to show how this can be done and the issues involved. This paper describes a heuristic method that can be used to encode clinical terms in SNOMED CT and an illustration of how it was applied to encode an existing palliative care dataset.
Methods
The encoding process involves: identifying input data items; cleaning the data items; encoding the cleaned data items; and exporting the encoded terms as output term sets. Four outputs are produced: the SNOMED CT reference set; interface terminology set; SNOMED CT extension set and unencodeable term set.
Results
The original palliative care database contained 211 data elements, 145 coded values and 37,248 free text values. We were able to encode ~84% of the terms, another ~8% require further encoding and verification while terms that had a frequency of fewer than five were not encoded (~7%).
Conclusions
From the pilot, it would seem our SNOMED CT encoding method has the potential to become a general purpose terminology encoding approach that can be used in different clinical systems.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-53
PMCID: PMC2949694  PMID: 20849611
25.  A targeted decision aid for the elderly to decide whether to undergo colorectal cancer screening: development and results of an uncontrolled trial 
Background
Competing causes of mortality in the elderly decrease the potential net benefit from colorectal cancer screening and increase the likelihood of potential harms. Individualized decision making has been recommended, so that the elderly can decide whether or not to undergo colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. The objective is to develop and test a decision aid designed to promote individualized colorectal cancer screening decision making for adults age 75 and over.
Methods
We used formative research and cognitive testing to develop and refine the decision aid. We then tested the decision aid in an uncontrolled trial. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who were prepared to make an individualized decision, defined a priori as having adequate knowledge (10/15 questions correct) and clear values (25 or less on values clarity subscale of decisional conflict scale). Secondary outcomes included overall score on the decisional conflict scale, and preferences for undergoing screening.
Results
We enrolled 46 adults in the trial. The decision aid increased the proportion of participants with adequate knowledge from 4% to 52% (p < 0.01) and the proportion prepared to make an individualized decision from 4% to 41% (p < 0.01). The proportion that preferred to undergo CRC screening decreased from 67% to 61% (p = 0. 76); 7 participants (15%) changed screening preference (5 against screening, 2 in favor of screening)
Conclusion
In an uncontrolled trial, the elderly participants appeared better prepared to make an individualized decision about whether or not to undergo CRC screening after using the decision aid.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-54
PMCID: PMC2949695  PMID: 20849625

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